Hauwa Liman’s Distraught Family Refuses To Believe She Is Dead
As the world reacts with outrage to the killing of a second aid worker, Hauwa Liman, by a faction of Boko Haram, her distraught family are holding out hope that she might still be alive.
Hauwa who works with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Nigerian government confirmed on Monday in a statement condemning the act.
Her father Mohammed Liman says the heart-breaking news, barely a month after another aid worker – Saifura Ahmed – who was abducted with her in March was killed, is hard to believe.
“We feel so bad and we are in doubt if she is dead or alive because we didn’t expect her to be killed so suddenly,” Liman told Channels Television at the family home in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The family had expected that the insurgents would give the government time to meet their demands. And although the government, ICRC and many others across the globe have condemned the murder, her family remains in doubt that she is dead.
“In fact, we are in doubt because, unless we see her corpse or any evidence that shows she is dead, we still believe that she is living. She is living,” her father insisted with her mom and other women in the home breaking down in tears intermittently.
‘Not A Warring Party’
Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Liman appealed to the insurgents to understand that Hauwa was not a warring party and should not have been made to face the ordeal she faced.
“I appeal to the insurgents to release her because she is not a warring party. She is a humanitarian worker. She treats the young and the women and she is so helpful, even to them; not only to the whole society – even to them,” he said.
As many across the world struggle to make sense on the ever-more brutal approach adopted by the terrorists that have ravaged Nigeria’s northeast, Hauwa’s family wants the government to help them get closure.
“We appeal to the government, if she was dead at all, we want the corpse to be brought and we bury her. That will give us peace of mind. Otherwise, we will never forget such an incident in our lives,” her dad pleaded.
Hauwa’s mother, Iyakachi, like her dad, is struggling to make sense of the nightmare she has had to endure.
Despite repeatedly break in down in tears before speaking to Channels Television, she remains hopeful.
Speaking in Hausa, she explained that she did not expect that it would come to this.
She said, “Up to this moment my mind has not told me that my daughter is dead. Because if you see what happened, these people want money. Now after Buhari agreed that he’d give the money, why is the gap between when he gave his consent and when this incidence happened so close?
“If a person wants money and they agreed to give him the money is he supposed to do this? Another thing is they (Hauwa and her colleagues) are humanitarian workers and are not supposed to be killed, and they are women. Why were they killed? And the ICRC had already pleaded with them to spare their staff and they even rendered them help as humanitarian workers. If this truly happened then it’s wrong. And, me, I strongly believe, that my daughter is not dead.”
Based on her belief about her daughter’s fate, she also called on the government to act.
“The government should investigate; if this girl is still alive, they should just bring her back. I don’t need anything except my child. If they can try and confirm that my daughter is well and alive, they should bring her back; that’s all,” she said.
Months In Captivity
Hauwa and two other aid workers – Alice Loksha and Saifura Ahmed Khorsa – were abducted by ISWAP on March 1, 2018.
While Hauwa and Saifura functioned as health workers with the ICRC, Alice worked with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
They were captured from Rann, a small town in Borno where thousands of internally displaced persons live in an IDP camp.
The raid that led to their abduction was a bloody one with three other female aid workers and some soldiers killed.
Two of the aid workers killed in the attack were contractors with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), working as coordinators in the camp believed to contain up to 55,000 IDPs who fled their homes because of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Despite global condemnation of the attack by ISWAP, which had earlier in the year shocked the world by abducting more than 100 schoolgirls from a secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State, the Boko Haram faction refused to release the three aid workers it abducted.
It is also still holding Leah Sharibu, the only Christian among the abducted schoolgirls, reportedly for refusing to renounce her faith.
In August, United Nations called for the release of the abducted workers.
In calling for the release of the aid workers, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon urged Nigerian leaders “to do everything in their power to protect the people caught up in conflict”.
Despite the calls for the release of the workers, they remained in captivity.
Any hope that all three abducted workers would return to their family alive was shattered a month later when the terrorists killed 25-year-old Saifura.
In executing Saifura, the Boko Haram faction threatened to kill another aid worker in a month if the Federal Government does not meet their demands and continues to ignore them, TheCable which saw a video of the execution reported on September 17.
The group had also threated that Sharibu could suffer the same fate.
“We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages but the government has ignored us. So, here is a message of blood,” said a spokesman of the group had been quoted as saying.
As the one-month deadline approached, on Sunday, the ICRC had made an urgent appeal to the Nigeria Government and communities and individuals with influence to secure the release of two other abducted health workers.
“A deadline that could result in the killing of another health care worker is less than 24 hours away,” the ICRC said in a statement, adding, “Speed and urgency are critical.”
Also in the statement, ICRC’s head of operations in the Lake Chad region, Mamadou Sow, begged ISWAP to show mercy and spare the lives of the aid workers who were “doing nothing but helping the communities in northeast Nigeria”.
The plea fell on deaf ears, with the insurgents once again sparking outrage and global condemnation by executing Hauwa.
The UN, Amnesty International, Nigerian Government, and the ICRC are among those that have condemned the execution of the workers.
Reacting to the execution on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said, “It is very unfortunate that it has come to this.
“Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the Federal Government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker.”
Mohammed added, “As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open, all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.
“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors.”
For the ICRC the execution of two of its aid workers has been devastating, and nothing can justify their murder.
“The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi, said.
“We appealed for mercy and an end to such senseless murders. How can it be that two female health care workers were killed back-to-back? Nothing can justify this.”
She appealed for the release of Alice and Leah who remain in captivity with their fate hanging in the balance.
“Hauwa and Saifura’s deaths are not only a tragedy for their families, but they will also be felt by thousands of people in Rann and other conflict-affected areas of north-east Nigeria where accessing health care remains a challenge. We urge the group holding Alice and Leah to release them safely,” Danzi said.